Parkersburg Depot unveiled

The Parkersburg Depot, complete with section of railroad and historic signage was unveiled Friday in Joe Brigance Park. Chickasaw County Heritage and Genealogical Society President Larry Davis is shown addressing the crowd gathered for the event. (Floyd Ingram / Buy at photos.chickasawjournal.com)

The Parkersburg Depot, complete with section of railroad and historic signage was unveiled Friday in Joe Brigance Park. Chickasaw County Heritage and Genealogical Society President Larry Davis is shown addressing the crowd gathered for the event. (Floyd Ingram / Buy at photos.chickasawjournal.com)

HOUSTON – There was a day and age when catching a ride to Okolona or Houston was as easy as flagging down the line car on the old OHCC Railroad.

Parkersburg was one of about a dozen flag stops on the Okolona, Houston, Calhoun City (OHCC) Railroad and service on the line was not stopped until the fall of 1939, but on Friday, June, 13 the Parkersburg Depot was unveiled as the latest addition at the Chickasaw County Heritage Museum.

“I have a close association with this line because the track ran down the length of the old homeplace where I lived,” said Lamar Beaty, of the Chickasaw County Heritage Museum. “I never road on that railroad, but it was a big part of the history and economy of this area.”

Beaty said the OHCC was initially built to haul lumber, cotton, cattle and grain to the mainline in Okolona.

Beaty helped restore the old Parkersburg flag stop and install a section of track on museum property on the north side of Woodland Circle in Joe Brigance Park. The flag stop was moved off the Neal/Sullivan property a number of years ago and placed behind the Houston Fire Station where is slowly fell into dis-repair.

That’s when the Chickasaw County Heritage Museum took it on as a restoration project. Plans were made and inmate labor used to lay the track, put a metal roof on the structure, nail on new timber and planks and then paint it all in original colors.

“The sheriff’s department, city hall, the street department and numerous individual to many to name had a part in making this happen,” said Beaty. “We got the railroad ties from MPI and another industry donated the rails.”

Beaty said in the good ole days riding on the OHCC was as simple as flagging it down.

“If you didn’t stand up and flag it, it would just roll on past,” said Beaty. “They charged you a penny a mile.”

Flag stops on the line were Kinney, Abernathy, Bacon, Neal, Wilkerson, Parkersburg, Buchanan Crossing, Hall and Hollins. Each of these was a small community served by the OHCC at the turn of the century.

“I remember the Parkersburg Depot because it was right down the road from my house,” said Rad Clark, who still lives in that area. “One of my childhood memories is going down to the Soctohomar Creek and going swimming.”

The boys in that neck of the wood called themselves the Soctohomar Creek Swimming Club, Clark said with a grin.

“But we were poor,” said Clark. “We were so poor we didn’t have swimming uniforms, so we didn’t wear one.”

Clark, Beaty and Ralph Thomas said they do remember jumping off one of the trussles over the Soctohomar.

“You had to be real careful where you jumped,” said Thomas. “There were old cutoff pilings just under the water. If you hit one you could get hurt and of course you had to watch out for snakes. I often wonder how we made it out of childhood.”

Chickasaw County Heritage Museum President Larry Davis thanked those who played a part in bringing the history of the Parkersburg flag stop and OHCC Railroad back to life.

A sign was unveiled at the ceremony that detailed the history of the OHCC and Parkersburg flag stop.

The Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogical Society was formed in 1979 to preserve, catalog and share local history.

Historical family research has been a keystone in building the current museum and surrounding structures. From the beginning the Historical Society has sought to preserve county records, post office and cemetery locations, land maps, letters, family histories and the little bits of information that help people research their roots.

The Historical Society has embarked on a three-phase building project for the site on Woodland Circle in Joe Brigance Park.

The first phase saw the construction of a 2,000-square-foot Ag Museum to houses farm equipment and ag-related items with historical significance. Phase Two saw the construction of a 1,600-square-foot building that houses research and historical records as well as artifacts and exhibits. Phase Three will be an additional 800-square-foot exhibit area.

Plans have also been discussed to highlight the community’s musical heritage and create a permanent exhibit depicting the history of the Chickasaw Indian nation.

This spring the Museum earned the coveted Frank E. Everett, Jr. Award, the state’s top award for protection and display of local history, from the Mississippi Historical Society.

The Chickasaw County Heritage Museum is staffed by volunteers it is open most days and admission is free. For research help call 662-456-2650.

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